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Old 06-04-2012, 07:56 AM   #1
caleb72
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Delphi Classics - worth the price?

When I first got into eReading, I was very excited to learn about public domain works being downloadable for free. I started thinking of all the classics I'd never read that I could now get stuck into without an investment.

Anyway - the Gutenberg library was nice and the MobileRead library was even better. However, not that long ago I came across the Delphi Classics website. It looked like an organisation had decided to make a business out of repackaging the classics painstakingly proofing OCR scans etc.. to give a professional output at a very modest price.

Then I started to see several comments on the high quality of the Delphi Classics works which made me think that the token investment given was worth it for the peace of mind.

Anyway - to get to the point, I purchased the complete works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, an author I'm very interested in, and I started reading one of his smaller works, The Eternal Husband. This is what I've found in the first chapter:

Quote:
so at least the lawyer declared, and begged him for mercy’s sake to go away to the country somewhere.
. But he could not make up his mind to do so.
Stray period.

Quote:
At first sight you might have supposed him to be of a lax, care-tess disposition or character
care-tess?

Quote:
“‘higher things” as matters which he’
Quote mishaps.

Quote:
how once, and not so very long ago, he had been publicly insulted, and had not challenged the offender how once an epigram had been fastened to his name by some witty person
There's a missing semi-colon between "offender" and "how".

Quote:
he remembered several un, paid debts, and how he had most stupidly run through two. very respectable fortunes.
Problems with "unpaid" and an unwanted period between "two" and "very".

Quote:
Then he began to recall facts belonging to a “ higher” order.
Redundant space after the double-quote.

Quote:
There were moments (few albeit) in which he was not even ashamed of having no carriage of his own, now; orx of being seen by one of his former friends in shabby clothes;
orx?

Quote:
But though no other opportunity ever did occur of maligning the schoolmistress, yet the very thought alone that “such an opportunity were to occur he would inevitably seize it was almost fatal to him at times.
Double-quote is out of place. Should be the word "if".

Quote:
he resumed, in a strain of melancholy philosophizing \
Strange \ instead of ;

Quote:
what with the dust and the heat, and the discomfor-of this house
and the discomfort of this house

Quote:
I worit go away
won't

Quote:
I’ll stay and die here rather than go?
Should be ! instead of ?


This is what I found in the first 17 paragraphs!

I will of course be reporting these problems. However, has anyone had an experience like this with the Delphi Classics? Are some works better than others? Surely the good reputation they have must come from somewhere. In this case, from a superficial glance, they would have been much better off copying and pasting from the Gutenberg site as none of these errors exist in the version on that site.

Last edited by caleb72; 06-04-2012 at 08:31 AM.
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Old 06-04-2012, 11:41 AM   #2
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The attraction of Delphi Classics is the value-add they provide by hunting down a lot of bonus features incorporating them into their "complete public domain works" editions of author's stuff, with good organization and navigable chapters and such. I know I'm certainly not going to bother finding 5 different translations of the Aeneid, much less assemble them into a mega-omnibus with an interlinear Latin-English version.

And they do correct typos and keep adding additional materials as they surface to their existing editions at no extra cost to the original customer, as you can see from their updates page. Sadly, the first of these things is a service one cannot expect from publishers of completely new works being sold at more than triple the price.

So overall, while typos may be disappointing, they do try to fix them and I'd say that the Delphi Classics are worth the price, though I personally would only pick them up during coupon sales because I just don't like mega-omnibuses to begin with (and they could do with a bit more NCX nesting to give better navigation of books-within-books, but that's something I can add myself if I really feel like it).
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Old 06-04-2012, 12:27 PM   #3
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I've been working my way through Complete Works of Mark Twain in the Delphi series.

The quality varies from one section to another. Some of the novels do have annoying typographical glitches: typically, the last letter of a word gets moved to the beginning of the next word. But, so far, I've found the short stories, the essays and satires, and the "library of humor" to be pretty well error-free.

On balance, the formating and typography is much better than most public-domain works. Based on this particular volume, I'd say they are definitely worth the modest purchase price. As ATDrake mentioned, there's the added bonus of the lesser-known material, plus there's a nice sprinkling of illustrations.

Once I've finished with Mark Twain (if I ever do), I'll be looking to buy more of the Delphi series.

Mike
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Old 06-04-2012, 01:35 PM   #4
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Yes - quality can vary highly among different volumes - as mentioned in the above posts - and typos can be quite irritating ... that said:
1. Delphi will correct their texts and issue free updates. Early purchasers (and readers) can help greatly in this process by submitting errors back to the Delphi website - esp. those recurring "substitution" errors that occur throughout a work - and can be rapidly corrected.
2. Delphi's prices for PD works are extremely modest - given the amount of work obviously done with the formatting, collecting of more obscure works & collateral items (photos, reviews, letters, texts in multiple languages, etc.).
3. They do listen to reader suggestions -- producing the Dickens evolumes of individual works, or the Mark Twain Lite version.

So yes - I think they are worth the price - esp. with Delphi's practice of offering monthly discount codes for purchases over $10.
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Old 06-04-2012, 02:18 PM   #5
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orx?
Or exclusively. Orx.
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Old 06-04-2012, 09:55 PM   #6
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Hmmm - you like the formatting? I actually find that fairly inconsistent, but that is what I'm less likely to complain about.

I understand the point of readers sending corrections and usually I wouldn't mind, Delphi Classics is hardly likely to be a huge operation, but with 12 errors in the first 17 paragraphs it's clear that noone has even looked at this even superficially. Even dumping the text into Word should have revealed most of these errors I would have thought.
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Old 06-06-2012, 05:48 AM   #7
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Their books really can't be terribly well proofed at the price they're offering them for - it's an enormously time-consuming and expensive process. I can proof-read about 10 pages an hour, so that would equate to 40 hours work for a 400 page book.
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:24 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
Their books really can't be terribly well proofed at the price they're offering them for - it's an enormously time-consuming and expensive process. I can proof-read about 10 pages an hour, so that would equate to 40 hours work for a 400 page book.
That's true - but you actually perform close and painstaking proof-reading. In fact, I believe you've stated before that you do a side-by-side comparison with a paperback/hardback as you go, is that correct?

I was hoping at least for an initial pass in some kind of automated spelling/grammar checker. You can do that quite quickly after a while. You just need to perform it on the text before you do the epub/mobi formatting part of the process.

Maybe I should actually do it for a text myself and see how easy it actually is before I mouth off too much further.

I mean I didn't expect perfection, but I did expect a little better than an initial OCR scan that's all. As I said before, the text available on Gutenberg is better by an order of magnitude and that did surprise me a little.
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:27 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by caleb72 View Post
That's true - but you actually perform close and painstaking proof-reading. In fact, I believe you've stated before that you do a side-by-side comparison with a paperback/hardback as you go, is that correct?
Yes, that's exactly what I do.

Quote:
I was hoping at least for an initial pass in some kind of automated spelling/grammar checker. You can do that quite quickly after a while. You just need to perform it on the text before you do the epub/mobi formatting part of the process.
Agreed - that would be something that one might reasonably expect.
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Old 06-06-2012, 07:53 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by poohbear_nc View Post
Yes - quality can vary highly among different volumes - as mentioned in the above posts - and typos can be quite irritating ... that said:
1. Delphi will correct their texts and issue free updates. Early purchasers (and readers) can help greatly in this process by submitting errors back to the Delphi website - esp. those recurring "substitution" errors that occur throughout a work - and can be rapidly corrected.
2. Delphi's prices for PD works are extremely modest - given the amount of work obviously done with the formatting, collecting of more obscure works & collateral items (photos, reviews, letters, texts in multiple languages, etc.).
3. They do listen to reader suggestions -- producing the Dickens evolumes of individual works, or the Mark Twain Lite version.

So yes - I think they are worth the price - esp. with Delphi's practice of offering monthly discount codes for purchases over $10.
This, I've had them respond and fix errors the same day I've contacted them. I'm very impressed with their customer service.

The collections are worth the price to me...though some of them are huge!
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Old 06-06-2012, 08:46 AM   #11
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At $3 each they are not bad in terms of the vastly over priced novels of today. However my standards are pretty low at the $3 level however they still need to have the bugs worked out of the translation process even at that level: no formating mistakes and certainly no editing mistakes. So if what calbe has to say about their books are true then they will need to brush up their editing before I am willing to give them a penny. I don't know about you all but I generally prefer to pay less rather than more.
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:38 PM   #12
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I can proof-read about 10 pages an hour, so that would equate to 40 hours work for a 400 page book.
Yes, and in the case of these Delphi collections, the page count is very much higher than that. I reckon in the Mark Twain volume, the novels alone are equivalent to over 4,000 pages, and they make up less than one quarter of the entire text.

Mike
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Old 06-06-2012, 12:41 PM   #13
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I don't know about you all but I generally prefer to pay less rather than more.
I would rather pay more. Given a choice of paying $10 for a well-formatted error-free book, or paying nothing for a book that's full of spelling mistakes, poor punctuation and lousy formatting, I'd pay the money every time.

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Old 06-06-2012, 12:45 PM   #14
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I would rather pay more. Given a choice of paying $10 for a well-formatted error-free book, or paying nothing for a book that's full of spelling mistakes, poor punctuation and lousy formatting, I'd pay the money every time.

Mike
Me too. I have lots of money, but little time. What time I do have, I prefer to spend reading nicely formatted, error-free books.
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:29 AM   #15
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Well - the guys at Delphi Classics were quite nice in the end. I'm running The Brothers Karamazov through Word spelling grammar checking just in case as that will be the next Dostoyevsky book I'll read but I've only found a couple of errors to correct. It may be that because The Eternal Husband was a smaller, more obscure work, that they didn't invest the same amount of time in it.

Actually, proofing is a challenge as I have to distinguish an OCR error from something I have an inclination to correct that was actually in the original work/translation.

I can see why HarryT is not satisfied unless performing a one-to-one comparison with a hardback/paperback.
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